Day Two: Fudai to Tarō.

Sunday 29th July

Day 2 – Fudai to Tarō

There was an after-shock this morning while having breakfast. Kuroseki is on latitude 40 degrees north. Departed auto-camp at about 9:00am and it’s already hotter than is comfortable. Funny how you want what you don’t have – cool when hot, warm when cold.

Kuroseki is on latitude 40 degrees North

Prefecture Road 44

Nice start to the day along the deserted Rikuchu Kaigan Seaside Line (Prefecture Road 44) as it continues south and keeping to a higher elevation until arriving at the top of a steep 10% descent.

Steep descent

On the  way up the next hill pass the turn off to the scenic Kitayamazaki Cliffs.

Turnoff to Kitayamazaki Cliffs

It is easy to see why Kitayamazaki Cliffs are called the “Alps of the Sea”. They are considered by many as the most beautiful coastal scenery in Japan, rising 200 metres and stretching 8kms along the coast.

Kitayamazaki Cliffs from observatory

Rikuchu Coast

Looking down on a destroyed sea wall, it is already becoming difficult to appreciate the scale of damage caused by the tsunami. A parked car (upper left corner in photo below) helps to give a perspective.

Damaged sea wall

Ragosu Hotel, Tanohata

Arrive at the village of Tanohata, with the large beachfront Hotel Ragaso. Here the tsunami reached the hotel’s 4th floor, note the tide mark on hotel wall. It is the only building still standing adjacent to the beach, the first houses are several hundred meters inland.

Continue on to the next village of Shimanokoshi where only two buildings remain.

Shimonokoshi Station before

Shimanokoshi Station after

End of the railway line at Shimanokoshi

Pass what seems to be a volunteer centre but don’t stop.

Continue along the coast

A little way inland and on the way back to Route 45 discover a shop in the hamlet of Kiriushi. I disturb the elderly owners having their lunch. The lady comes over but stops me buying my first choice, it has passed its use by date. She pulls out a chair for me to sit on while I eat, she goes back to her lunch.

Traditional shop, one of the few services along this part of the coast

Refueled I continue, rejoin Route 45 at Oashi. Soon afterwards Route 45 divides in to a car only road and another for everyone else. I take the latter, soon afterwhich two large bridges appear across a spectacular deep gorge.

Two bridges over gorge

Pass another side road to more spectacular cliffs of U no Su (or cormorant cliff).

Still 300km to my destination

U no su Cliffs

Lots of ups and downs before a steep descent to Omoto. Stop for a rest and bite to eat at the convenience there.

Another 10% gradient and 30kmph speed limit

This descent has a truck escape ramp (on left)

Big hills but the views are nice!

Continue on to Settai, at the JR Station meet Mineko and Hiro-san, two members of the local growers’ co-operative. Members of the co-op has been selling produce here for about 20 years. Mineko offers me some plums but it is too many, and too heavy to carry. We compromise, I take about half. Many thanks Mineko, if you read this!

Some members of Settai Co-op

Settai Co-op

Before leaving I go for supplies to the village shop she mentioned. When I enter the lady shop keeper asks if I am from New Zealand, making me think Mineko must have phoned her to say I was coming. She then points to the NZ flag on my sign, picks up a rugby ball from behind the counter and says: “All Blacks”! She’s a fan!

Was warned that Tarō Road Station is up a steep hill but I find the climb isn’t too bad. Mineko will be there to sell her produce tomorrow so we might meet again if I leave late.

Tarō Road Station has a large resting area, with tatami platform and a TV as well as the usually road station info. I like it! The fast food kiosk is good too. Watch the Olympics before going to sleep.

Tarō Road Station

It is so quiet and clean. It’s unlikely a facility like this being treated with such respect in English-speaking countries like NZ or Australia. I wonder why?

Drivers’ resting area, Tarō Road Station

It was an eventful day but did not go very far – only about 50km!

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